An Open Letter from Student Kris Rose, Drury Student and National Debate Champion

My name is Kris Rose. I am a member of the Drury debate union and we spent this past week winning the national championship debate tournament, a tournament that was won last year by the West Point Military Academy. My incredible partner, Ameran Link, and I went undefeated to bring home the national championship. Add to this, our squad was named the number one varsity debate squad in the nation. I, along with all of my teammates, have received applause, commendations, and congratulations for this achievement. First I want to thank all of you for your kind words. I can speak for the entire team when I say that we greatly appreciate all of the support you have provided throughout this first year of the program’s existence.

That being said, I would like to take all the focus that has been so graciously put on me and my friends and place it where it deserves to be; that focus needs to be on you, as the faculty and staff of this university. I believe that I am fair in saying that winning a national championship in debate is a unique accomplishment for this institution. If the men’s basketball team or women’s swimming and diving team were to win a national championship, this would be an incredible accomplishment, deserving of a great deal of attention and appreciation, especially for the players and coaches involved. I do not want to take anything away from those fine accomplishments. I do, however, want to explain how winning the national title in debate is different. The national title in debate is not only an accomplishment for the whole university but it is an accomplishment which is uniquely ingrained in the Drury community as a whole.

Let me explain. Without you, the faculty and staff, it would have simply not been possible to win this national title. Allow me to reiterate and clarify this sentiment: I did not say that without Drury professors and staff members this achievement would have been difficult, I said it would have been impossible. I did not know it, but for the last four semesters, the entirety of my college career, you have been preparing me and putting me in a position to succeed. I was developing in Ethics with Craig Titus, American Literature with Rich Schur, Sociology with Robin Miller, Statistics with Sergey Borovich, all of you allowing me the chance to win this title, and bring back tangible evidence of how incredible a Drury education is. And that is what this is ultimately, tangible evidence of what a Drury education can do.

The skills that it provides, the community it provides, and the knowledge that it gives a student to know that he or she will be supported within this community. Emphasizing critical thinking, intellectual open-mindedness, and being a wealth of knowledge and resources in topics ranging from philosophy to economics to political science, Drury University has been my coach, mentor, and friend.

That is why it is only fair and just to insist that this is not the Debate team’s national championship, not first nor foremost. This is Drury University’s national championship. This is proof, not just that we can recruit talented debaters to bring home hardware, but that a strong liberal arts education can take a group of people with collectively zero collegiate debate experience, and within one year of competition be able to call ourselves national champions.

That is simply why it is necessary to thank the staff and faculty within this community, important because I am certain that not all of us truly appreciate this for the holistic achievement it is. That being said, I would actually like to thank all of you, because the last week has been the most incredible experience of my life, and I cannot stress the sincerity of that statement enough. I would like to thank all of you because you made this experience possible for me and my teammates. I cannot tell you how truly honored I am to be able to present the tangible evidence that makes obvious what all of us already knew, the depths of your talent, skill, and impact on every single student of this university, not just me. Dr. Leinaweaver, thank you. Dr. Stepp, thank you. Dr. Katie Gilbert, thank you. Dr. Chris Panza, thank you. Dr. Henderson and Dr. Van Arkel, thank you. Dr. Rich Schur, thank you. To all of Drury’s incredible staff and faculty, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. This year has been a beautiful experience for all of us, and you have made it possible.

Finally, and this cannot be overstated or overestimated, I would like to say both personally and as a representative of the Drury Debate Union, one person deserves more thanks than any for these successes. That is Dr. Charlie Deberry. Dr. Deberry has been, without a doubt, the bedrock of the success of this team, a fiercely intelligent, fiercely funny, and fiercely impactful person who has single-handedly kept this team winning, and winning together. I can assure you, that with the collection of personalities on this team, there are few feats greater than what Dr. Deberry has done, seemingly without effort, and with ultimate respect and care for the members of this union.

Thank you, Dr. Deberry. Thank you.

Above all, this achievement is not something that can be explained by looking at the hours that I and my friends have put in, nor at the funding provided to us, or even good luck (though that had a lot to do with it).

No, if you want to understand what made a Drury Debate National Championship possible, walk into a classroom, any classroom on this campus, sit down, and listen.

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